Bonneville Salt Flats; Wendover, Utah

The world-famous Bonneville Salt Flats is located just west of the Tree of Utah as you travel west on I-80. It is one of the few places on the planet so flat and large that you can see the curve of the planet, and so deadly that not even the simplest life forms of our planet can sustain themselves there.

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The  Bonneville Salt Flats is another place I’ve driven past on numerous occasions, but never bothered to take the time to stop and see until this visit. I discovered there are two ways to see the place… the first is the a rest stop on the north side of Interstate-80

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The second option is to enter into the park itself to where the the measured mile is located, which is where the cars race. To get there, you go to the next exit west of the rest stop. There you will find a Sinclair Truck stop, that sells a collection of Bonneville Speedway t-shirts, along with the normal truck stop selection of goods

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and that, besides the obligatory gas, has something highly unusual for a truck stop…. a cafe that serves Indian food!!!

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I was so amazed when I spotted this, that I stopped to order some lunch. I ordered Sag Paneer, one of my very favorite foods, Tandoori chicken, and garlic Nan… the waiter told me that the wait for the chicken was going to about half an hour… so I told him I’d be back… and headed out to see the speedway

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This picture was actually taken on the way BACK to the truckstop

From the truck stop you drive down Leppy Pass Road, taking the curve in the bend onto the Bonneville Speedway Road (a two lane black top road along side which you’ll find a lot of people parked in campers)

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As was this one… (note the mountains)

For some reason the map won’t embed the map, so follow this link to show the spot of the final location: https://goo.gl/maps/qSFXak8XWEP2

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IMG_4628.jpgWhen I got there I was told that there was actually a race going on, and it would cost $20 to go out on to the salt flats… I told her I actually had to get back to the gas station because I had ordered lunch… and could I just take photos for now of the entrance way, and then come back after I had eaten (at which point I would pay to enter the area). She said yes, and directed me where to park.IMG_2372IMG_4629

After these photos I headed back to the cafe and had my lunch…. I also ordered a sweet lassi to drink with it.

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All of it was very tasty, but unfortunately the cook had undercooked the chicken thighs (my favorite part of the chicken too)… so he took it back in to have it cooked some more, and the chef for some reason opted to deep-fry it, meaning I still couldn’t eat it (not allowed deep-fried food).

And that’s when I suddenly had an urge to go to the bathroom (as in I really needed to poop all of a sudden). While there, for some reason…  I had the very bad luck of getting seriously sick. I was sitting on the toilet, pooping, and that black veil dropped in front of my eyes warning me that I was about to pass out. I put my head between my knees, started shaking and sweating really badly (as in heavy drops of sweat were falling off my forehead onto my glasses)… while sitting in what I knew was a cool room. I tried to stand up a few times and almost passed out each time, forcing me to sit again, and put my head right back between my knees… I tried pulling my pants up, but didn’t have the strength to do it. I was forced to ask a complete stranger to help me get my pants up. She, however, didn’t speak english; so, I asked her to please get someone who could — she spoke enough to understand that. It took her a while but she brought a guy from the shop, who translated to her what I wanted, while asking me if he should call 911, but warning me that the hospital was very far away and it could take them 20 minutes to get there. I told him not to. She helped me, and then I staggered over to the sinks and held on to them, still shaking horribly. She opened the faucets and started splashing my head with cool water, which actually helped.

When I started to feel a bit better I staggered over to the restaurant, paid my bill (poor guy must have thought I’d run out on it), sat at a table and put my head down on it and just stayed like that for about 20 minutes…. then with baby steps I got back to the car… guzzeled water I had there and waited for my head to clear so I could drive the almost 2 hour drive… I was actually pretty proud of myself all things considered

As such, I was only really able to glance at the salt flats before forced by illness to head directly towards my next hotel where I could rest … because to quote The Bard, “discretion is the better part of valor” —Henry IV, Part I, and while I am aware he meant it as a joke, I prefer its idiomatic usage, because it has a great deal of truth to it.

Metaphor – Tree of Utah: Wendover, UT

Located just next to I-80, about an hour west of Salt lake City Utah, and maybe 15 minutes east of Wendover, Nevada, I’ve driven by the “Tree of Utah” many times over the years, but this is the first time I ever stopped… and really looked at it IMG_4580I remember the first time I passed it was like a mirage, as you’re driving through a very large desolate desert area (the Great Salt Lake outside of Salt Lake City Utah) … the sort of place that must have terrified the first settlers in their covered wagons…

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only for this weird alian-like tree to suddenly pop up on the side of the road…IMG_4557

“On a clear day the Tree is visible to travelers on the highway at a distance of 17 miles. Motorists first see the multicolored spheres, as though they are suspended by seemingly invisible means above the desert. In warm weather the trunk is lost in the convection currents of hot air rising from the blanched desert floor.  Only the spheres shimmer mysteriously and silently in the arid atmosphere. On travelling nearer, the trunk becomes visible and the balls are elevated high above the surface, changing hue with the prevailing conditions of light and weather.” — AboutIMG_4571

I.e., now that I’m blogging about, I just discovered that this was in fact the artist’s intention, and it was based on him having just that sort of mirage like experience the first time he drove across that bit of desert.IMG_2333“The tree’s six spheres are all coated with natural rock and minerals found within the state of Utah, and the pods below symbolize the changing of the seasons, when trees naturally transform themselves.” — Wikipedia

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The artist, Karl Momen, built it at his own expense and gifted it to the state. Only when you try to approach it you’re NOT allowed to walk right up to the statue (there’s a fence around it — see above) so from that distance you can only JUST make out the plaque on its side, but can’t really read it… so the artist’s comment is unreadable without powerful binoculars — and the state’s made no attempt to replicate it where you can read it (which kind of tells me something about the state’s relationship to the work).

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I spotted a lot of Rest in peace (RIP) messages written to friends and loved ones on the surrounding salt flats by the placement of small stones

What’s really interesting is if you actually stop your car (which technically you’re NOT supposed to do (I passed a sign that said do not stop for any reason right as I was approaching it… although it’s clear when you get up close and personal that many people disregard that sign)

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is the relationship that locals and travelers have developed with the work. Every one of the “fallen fruit” type things that surround the work are heavily graffitied /tagged

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And individuals have even found ways to put their mark on the fencing that surrounds the work, which are much harder to see from even a few steps away

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After I got back into my car and started to drive, about five minutes more west of the tree I came across this off to the side of the road and stopped…. to give you a sense of its actual size (it was a bit away from me)IMG_2332

The Pink flamingo is the size of pink flamingos that folks tend to put in their front yards… i.e., the green monster is much larger than you think….

P.S., on April 22, 2019 I got this Facebook message from M (not going to put the whole name) “Hi I seen your blog about wendover Nevada,  the green snake monster is something my husband and I built … I was so tickled to see someone had blogged something about it,  we thought instead of seeing nothing but crosses,  grave markers? We wanted to make people laugh,  but we named it bonnie the Bonneville salt flats monster lol we haven’t told a lot of people because we were afraid we’d get in trouble,  [then she wrote something she asked me to keep secret] thanks again for sharing our fun”